Posted in Breaches

AMA survey highlights extent of cyberattacks on private practices

Chris Nerney
Chris Nerney, Contributing Writer |
AMA survey highlights extent of cyberattacks on private practices

If you’re a physician, the odds are overwhelming that your practice has been the target of a cyberattack. That’s the conclusion of a survey by the American Medical Association (AMA) and management consulting firm Accenture.
“A staggering 83 percent of physicians told AMA researchers that their practices have experienced a cyberattack of some type,” the medical group said Tuesday in announcing results of the survey of 1,300 physicians.
These attacks are raising qualms among physicians about their ability to treat patients. Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of responding physicians cite interruption to their clinical practice as a primary concern regarding cyberattacks.
Other highlights from the survey include:

  • 55 percent of physicians say they are worried about future cyberattacks
  • 29 percent of physicians who work in medium-sized practices say it takes up to a full day to recover from an attack
  • 53 percent of respondents are worried about future cyberattacks impacting patient safety

The survey also underscores the cost of cybersecurity. “Practices are running up six-figure annual cybersecurity bills,” the AMA said. “The amounts can be $250,000 per year for a nine-physician practice, or as much as $400,000 annually for a regional medical center with 50-plus physicians.”
Despite the expense and risk of connected care, 85 percent of physicians surveyed said it is important for providers to share electronic patient health information.
“The important role of information sharing within clinical care makes health care a uniquely attractive target for cyber criminals through computer viruses and phishing scams that, if successful, can threaten care delivery and patient safety,” AMA President David O. Barbe said in a statement. “New research shows that most physicians think that securely exchanging electronic data is important to improve health care. More support from the government, technology and medical sectors would help physicians with a proactive cybersecurity defense to better ensure the availability, confidentially and integrity of health care data.”
The AMA is conducting a one-hour cybersecurity webinar on January 24, 2018. Online attendees will be informed about what the organization is doing to raise awareness and understanding of the issue, as well as how physicians can advocate to protect their patients and gain insights into the shared responsibility for securing electronic patient information.